Pierre Bezukhov is one of the main characters, if not the main character, in Leo Tolstoy's novel War and Peace. His name is usually given as the French form "Pierre", instead of the Russian form "Piotr".

Pierre Bezukhov is the illegitimate son of a Russian prince with a very byzantine family structure. At the beginning of the novel, Pierre has returned from Paris, where he was being educated and imbibing radical ideas. To some of Russian society's surprise, he is named heir to his father, and becomes quite comfortably rich, and a prominent member of society, although he in general feels alienated from much of Russian society. Much of the non-military action of the book explored Pierre's attempts to understand society, the world, and himself. These attempts are often twisted by those around him: he is seduced into marriage with the unfaithful Helena Kuragin because her father wishes to share in his fortune, and his attempts to increase the welfare of his serfs is circumvented by stewards who pretend that his reforms are being carried out. He becomes a Freemason because he believes in its mystical and humanitarian aims, but finds that the order is mostly full of careerists who wish to make connections. Throughout the novel, his attempts to gain enlightenment and meaning are thwarted, until late in the plot he is taken prisoner and finds meaning in the basic fact of survival. At the end of the book, he marries the female lead, Natasha Rostov, and settles down to a rich, happy life.

Unlike the character of Natasha Rostov, who I found somewhat unrealistic and unflattering to women, Pierre Bezukhov is an interesting, moving and realistic character. It has been suggested, and seems fairly obvious, that Pierre is a character meant to reflect Leo Tolstoy's own struggles and views. His type of certainly familiar enough to me, since he seems to be the sort of proto-hipster that I am myself, someone who is always searching earnestly through the trends presented by society, but who is unable to ever find real meaning in them. Pierre is also not a one-note character, since despite his gentleness and sometimes gullibility, he is neither weak nor a fool. He is described as being physically stocky, and he can stick up for himself when needed: he shoots the violent, manipulative Dolokhov in a pistol duel, and in one of my favorite scenes in the book, lets the sleazy Anatole Kuragin know that it would be a good idea to leave town quickly after Anatole's attempted seduction of Natasha Rostov, an idea that Anatole quickly complies with.

The involving, realistic character of Pierre Bezukhov is one reason that War and Peace is considered one of the best novels ever, from one of the best novelists ever.

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